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FAQs on African Cichlid Diseases 1

Related Articles: African Cichlids, Malawian Cichlids: The Mbuna and their Allies By Neale Monks, The Blue Followers: the Placidochromis of Lake Malawi by Daniella Rizzo, Cichlid FishesFreshwater Fish Diseases, Freshwater DiseasesIch/White Spot Disease, Freshwater Medications

Related FAQs: African Cichlid Disease 2, African Cichlid Disease 3, African Cichlid Disease 4, African Cichlid Disease 5,   African Cichlid Disease 6, African Cichlid Disease 7, African Cichlid Disease 8, & Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Disease 2, Cichlid Disease 3, African Cichlids in General, African Cichlid Identification, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, Cichlids of the WorldCichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Furunculosis on Maylandia estherae? Hello once again wet friends, No good news this time. One of my red zebras got sick and could only last one week. Attached are some photos showing her wound. < This is actually not a wound but a Pseudomonas bacterial infection.  This is usually caused by the poor water quality and the fish becoming stressed. The first thing I would do is clean the filters and do a water change of 30% with treated tap water. Use a gravel vacuum on the gravel to remove any detritus build up in the gravel. Check you ammonia and nitrate levels in your water. The bacteria actually feed off these while they are eating away at your fish. Your medication may have killed off the good bacteria in your filter system so watch out for ammonia , nitrite and nitrate spikes. Don't feed the tank for a week and let the fish clean out their guts. If they are hungry they can graze on the algae off the rocks like they do in nature.>   First I noticed that she wasn't eating, next day she had a small nasty wound on her side. I thought it could have been caused by some fighting (four more females and a male in the same tank plus a little acei which is doing very well for now). I separated her into a fry net to prevent any bites on her wound and treated the whole tank with Sera's Baktapur and Mycopur hoping to stop any bacterial or fungus infections. In about four days the wound got incredibly big. On her last day she was at the bottom of the net, trying to breath. She looked hopeless and in pain. I had to put her in the cold, dark freezer. A very lonely death for any creature I believe, and I  don't feel very good about all that had happened. How could all that happen in just a week? What did I overlook? Anyway if you  can have any idea by looking at the photos please let me know. It isn't very noticeable on the photos, the wound is open all the way to her spine, and one of her ribs were on the open. Looked incredible. As if she was eaten alive, or thorn apart. Another bad news is that after about 10 days of her death I see another one not eating. < You may also have a case of Malawi Bloat> She actually looked like she was having difficulty  emptying her bowels. She produced one piece of bubble like faeces. I have no idea what's going on and this makes me mad. What is it? What should I do? < Do all of the above. At the end of the week your fish should be very hungry and have their faces pressed against the front of the glass. If not they are probably infected and should be removed to another tank to be treated with Metronidazole( Hard to get with poor results). Tropheus from lake Tanganyika also come down with this problem I would recommend you go to JDTropheus.com and read his solutions to this problem.  I would not recommend treating the entire tank.> Can I prevent it? < In the wild your Mbuna come from Lake Malawi. The lake has a pH close to 8 and is very hard with lots of minerals. The water temperature is around 77 degrees. These fish usually eat algae off the rocks and require large amounts of vegetable matter in their diet. Worms tend to rot in their gut and give them problems. I would recommend a high quality vegetable flake and feed them small amounts a couple times a day. Keep up on your tank maintenance and your fish should bounce back. Bloat is very difficult to cure but very easy to prevent.> I also realized I have some tiny little bugs in the tank. With the naked eye, they are oval shaped and move around on the surface. I just happened to notice their existence while I was examining the dead little one. I don't believe they are connected with her death. < These are springtails and feed off the bits of fish food in the water. They are harmless and pose no threat to your tank or fish. -Chuck> Any help is highly appreciated.  It always feels very good to know that you people exist, especially on the dark days. Thanks a lot, Husnu  

Re: Furunculosis on Maylandia estherae? Hello once again wet friends, No good news this time. One of my red zebras got sick and could only last one week. Attached are some photos showing her wound. First I noticed that she wasn't eating, next day she had a small nasty wound on her side. I thought it could have been caused by some fighting (four more females and a male in the same tank plus a little acei which is doing very well for now). I separated her into a fry net to prevent any bites on her wound and treated the whole tank with Sera's Baktapur and Mycopur hoping to stop any bacterial or fungus infections. In about four days the wound got incredibly big. On her last day she was at the bottom of the net, trying to breath. She looked hopeless and in pain. I had to put her in the cold, dark freezer. A very lonely death for any creature I believe, and I  don't feel very good about all that had happened. How could all that happen in just a week? What did I overlook? Anyway if you  can have any idea by looking at the photos please let me know. It isn't very noticeable on the photos, the wound is open all the way to her spine, and one of her ribs were on the open. Looked incredible. As if she was eaten alive, or thorn apart. <The bacteria that were eating at your fish were being fed by an excessive nitrate load in your aquarium. Get a nitrate test kit and check the nitrates. I have a hunch they will be off the scale. Reduce the nitrate levels by doing water changes and servicing the filter. The nitrate levels should be under 25 ppm. When you have the levels down I would suggest you add some cichlid salt too increase the slime on the fish. Vacuum the gravel too. This will remove much of the waste that is adding to your nitrate problem. If your fish don't improve it may be too late to help them. Sick fish should be moved to a special tank and treated. Many medications kill the beneficial bacteria in the filters and the gravel that keep the nitrogen chain moving along.> Another bad news is that after about 10 days of her death I see another one not eating. She actually looked like she was having difficulty  emptying her bowels. She produced one piece of bubble like faeces. I have no idea what's going on and this makes me mad.  What is it? < Malawi Bloat> What should I do? < Remove the fish to a special isolated tank and try to treat it with a medicated food with Metronidazole in it. If is not eating you could try a furnace type medication and slat but the chances of recovery are slime> Can I prevent it? <Absolutely! Check the nitrates in your tank often and try to keep them under 25 ppm. A test kit will help you determine when to do your water changes and how much water you need to change. Mbuna (Malawian Rock Cichlids) eat algae off the rocks in the wild. I would start feeding a high quality Spirulina flake food. Their health and color will greatly improve. Stay away from foods like worms. They are not required by these fish. Some people will tell you that they feed their fish all kinds of worms and have had no problems. They may just be lucky. In the long run you are better off with the flakes.> I also realized I have some tiny little bugs in the tank. With the naked eye, they are oval shaped and move around on the surface. I just happened to notice their existence while I was examining the dead little one. I don't believe they are connected with her death. < These are little springtails and are totally harmless to the fish. I think they come in as contaminants from the fish foods. -Chuck> Any help is highly appreciated. It always feels very good to know that you people exist, especially on the dark days. Thanks a lot, Husnu  

I've lost nearly all my African Cichlids! Help! Hi, your site looks very informative & it appears that you have helped a number of people.  I'm hoping that you might be able to help me as well... I have an African cichlid 55 gallon (mostly Mbunas (15) & a few of peacocks (3) from Lake Malawi).  Recently I had an outbreak of what I thought was 'Malawi Bloat' (I thought this because someone fed my fish the wrong food, & far too much, while I was on vacation).  A few days after I came home, I lost 2 fish (ps. socolofi).  They showed some tell tale signs by hiding, not eating, & exhibiting string white/clear feces.  I had this disease in my tank 6 months earlier so I immediately started to treat with Metronidazole (I treated & eliminated this disease in 5 days last time).  I did daily water changes & also began soaking their food in this medication.  I decided to treat the whole tank because the last time I had this disease it hit hard & fast (I lost 3 fish).  Well, to make a long story a little shorter.  I continued to lose  fish (approximately 2 per day)  on a daily basis through out the treatment (250mg of metro per 10 gallon, every other day for 5 days).  I used a mix of Epsom salt & aquarium salt.  I bumped up the temp & increased surface agitation for more oxygen.  I was still losing fish after the first treatment so I did a second treatment & kept the water clean & food medicated once per day.  Unfortunately, I continued to lose fish through the 2nd round of medicating (this time I treated w/ metro daily).  It's been 2 weeks & I am out of metro & nearly out of fish!  I've lost 12 fish so far. My tank is nearly empty & I am devastated.  So much money, time, energy & more money went into this tank. I am at a total loss about what is going on. I lost 2 fish just today.  My tank parameters are ph 8.0, GH 300, KH 300, nitrites 0, nitrates 20.  the temp is 78.  The other thing that could have kicked this disease off is the fact that I put in 3 new fish about 3 weeks ago.  These were the peacocks.  2 of them died today.  I didn't quarantine them.  I know that I probably should have (hind sight 20/20).  The only other symptoms that I can describe (besides stringy white/clear feces, hiding, not eating & lying on the bottom) is a rapid breathing & a bizarre behavior that a few of them exhibited right before they died - a fast mad, erratic, swirling, darting, freak out swim and then they just dropped dead (???).  I'm hoping that I can save my last few fish, but I highly doubt it at this point.  I'm about ready to give up on 3 years of fish keeping because of this catastrophe in my tank.  Can you help?  Do you have any ideas?  Thanks, ahead of time!  MM. <I normally only feed them a Spirulina flake, but I had run out.  So my 'nice neighbor' gave them a tropical flake & too much of it (by the looks of the filters when I cleaned them).  Next time I won't have anyone feed them.  That was a hard lessoned learned!  Right now, I'm feeding them metro soaked Spirulina pellets.  Should I not medicate them?  Should I just stick w/the flakes?  I have not had bloat for over twenty years. It is mainly caused by stress. I have heard that the fish get stressed and developed ulcers in their stomach.  The bacteria in the stomach run through the fishes blood stream through the ulcers and are stopped in the liver where they multiply and grow. The fishes immune system reacts by diluting the liver with water and thus causing the bloat type disorder you can plainly see. The bloat may have been caused by you well meaning friend who overfed the fish while  you were gone.> They may have been stressed, because I added the new fish about a week before I left.  But everything seemed fine before I left...  <I suspect the ammonia levels were elevated with lots of leftover food and the fish began to get sick. You probably have lots of rock work in your tank too. There were probably some dead bodies lodged under rocks and ornaments that added to the problem.> Actually, the ammonia levels were fine.  I didn't have a single fish die until I got home.  I watched them wane & then I would remove them immediately from the tank & followed up w/ a water change & vacuum.  <If you have any fish left, I would stop feeding and continue to do your scheduled maintenance.> How long should I stop feeding them for?  I generally do a 25% water change once per week.  Should I change filters at this point?  I've treated for 2 weeks & I'm not seeing a huge change in their behavior.  Like I said, I had 2 of them just kill over on me yesterday.  ):   <The medicine has a tendency to kill good bacteria too.> Should I no longer give them medicated food.  I was going to do this for a 7 day total. <Make sure your nitrogen cycle is still good by checking on the ammonia levels. Any remaining fish should be fed a good quality fresh Spirulina food. Some aquarists make the mistake of buying food in bulk and it lasts them all year. If you do buy food in large quantities, I would freeze most of it and just keep a little in a can that can be fed in a week. This way it will not lose the vitamin content or go bad.>  <Good advice on the bulk food! When should I start giving them the flakes?  should I "fast" them for a few days first? <as you well know Mbuna like to be crowded. If you add new fish and some of the older ones are still around you need to add the fish at night before you turn off the lights. Rearrange the rocks too. Mbuna set up territories and guard them very well against new fish.> I did just this.  I actually rearranged, fed the original fish, turned out the lights & slowly added the new ones.  I read on several different sites that you should never add new fish w/o quarantining them first.  I'm a member of the cichlid forum - they are huge on the quarantine thing.  but it's a lot of work & money!  Do you think that new fish often bring diseases into your tank?  <Bloat is a common problem with Tropheus from Lake Tanganyika. I would recommend a website called JDTropheus.com for a second opinion on how he handles his bloat problems with his fish. The same advice could be applied to Mbuna. <I'll check this site out.  I guess my fear is that they didn't have 'bloat' after all and perhaps I was treating them for the wrong thing.  I mean, I have been tedious about caring for these fish & I've been losing them for 2 weeks!  I just wondered if there was something else that I can do.  Do you know anything about fish that freak out & dart around just before they die?  that was weird. <As far as replacing your fish, Mbuna are easily bred and are very common all over the country in pet shops and at aquarium society meetings. Stay away from the newer more expensive fish for now until things settle down. You fish are very active and your filter should turn the water over at least 3 times an hour but 5 times and hour would be much better. I would recommend a book, Enjoying Cichlids by Ad Konings for a good reference on keeping all kinds of cichlids. Good luck.____> Thanks, but I wonder if I'm cut out for this fish keeping thing.  losing 12 fish is kind of a downer... <Dear McCall, Sorry to hear about your tank. You are correct about the main causes of bloat. For future reference, when you go on vacation I would not have anyone come feed my fish unless I would be gone longer than a week. I would lower the water temp. to 74 degrees and make sure my filters were clean and running well. For food I would recommend a Spirulina flake only.  In the wild they eat algae off the rocks. A little brine shrimp flake every once an awhile doesn't hurt either. > <Dear McCall, I would recommend that you discontinue all medication. They are dying faster from the medication then they ever would from the bloat. Wait one week before feeding and let everything settle down. Do a 25% water change and do your maintenance on your filter and change the carbon with a good quality brand. Dump the pellets. Get some OSI Spirulina flake. At the end of the week check the chemistry of the water. All the nitrogen levels should be normal and the remaining fish should stabilize. Even if fish are still dying I would not add any medication at this time. The medication you are using should have been used once at the first sign of symptoms and another time one week later. Not continuously. I suspect they have been poisoned or the medication has totally wiped out the bacteria in their gut and they can no longer digest any food. This would cause the frantic dashing around the tank that you describe. Really Mbuna are some of the easiest fish to keep. Stick with me and we will get you through this and make sure this never happens again and we will make you a successful aquarist. The quarantine thing is good but Mbuna really don't get sick. The biggest problem with them is aggression. Let things settle down and email me in a week. Let me know what you have left and how things are going. We will take it from there and get you back up and going in no time. Chuck.>

African cichlids I have 6 fish in a 30 gallon tank all Africans all are fine except one. I have one African bumblebee cichlid who in the last few weeks spends his time head straight up hiding in a fake plant eyes cloudy and he is yellow but as he is hiding all day he turns a really dark and black he won't eat much and does not move his tail fins look a little ragged but the concern are his cloudy eyes and also his straight up stance sometimes he is head down but not moving much? I have treated the tank with antibiotics but everyone else is fine and swimming around healthy water test indicate no problems any help is greatly appreciated......<Dear Tyrone, You did not mention the other fish but I suspect the others are intimidating your little bumble bee cichlid. I would place him in a little breeder net that you can buy for a few dollars at the local pet shop. Make sure that the top is covered so he does not jump out. Place a small pvc or plastic tube in the net so he has somewhere to hide. Make sure the pH of your tank is above 7 and add a tablespoon of rock salt or sea salt_ for every 5 gallons of water to the tank. They sell a rift lake salt as well that will work. Follow the directions on the container. The salt will help generate a slime on the fish and will get rid of the cloudy eyes. The other fish are picking on this one and the tail will grow back quickly. When the bumblebee cichlid has his tail back and the eyes are no longer cloudy then he can be returned to the main tank only after you do a few things. Just before you turn off the lights at night, rearrange the rocks and do a 25% water change. Put the bumblebee back in the tank and turn off the lights for the night. The next morning they will be swimming around trying to establish new territories. Good luck. Chuck>

I've lost nearly all my African Cichlids! Help! Hi, your site looks very informative & it appears that you have helped a number of people.  I'm hoping that you might be able to help me as well...  I have an African cichlid 55 gallon mostly Mbuna (15) & a few of peacocks (3) from Lake Malawi).  Recently I had an outbreak of what I thought was 'Malawi Bloat' (I thought this because someone fed my fish the wrong food, & far too much, while I was on vacation).  A few days after I came home, I lost 2 fish (ps. socolofi).  They showed some tell tale signs by hiding, not eating, & exhibiting string white/clear feces.  I had this disease in my tank 6 months earlier so I immediately started to treat with Metronidazole (I treated & eliminated this disease in 5 days last time).  I did daily water changes & also began soaking their food in this medication.  I decided to treat the whole tank because the last time I had this disease it hit hard & fast (I lost 3 fish).  Well, to make a long story a little shorter.  I continued to lose fish (approximately 2 per day)  on a daily basis through out the treatment (250mg of metro per 10 gallon, every other day for 5 days).  I used a mix of Epsom salt & aquarium salt.  I bumped up the temp & increased surface agitation for more oxygen.  I was still losing fish after the first treatment so I did a second treatment & kept the water clean & food medicated once per day.  Unfortunately, I continued to lose fish through the 2nd round of medicating (this time I treated w/ metro daily).  It's been 2 weeks & I am out of metro & nearly out of fish!  I've lost 12 fish so far.  My tank is nearly empty & I am devastated.  So much money, time, energy & more money went into this tank. I am at a total loss about what is going on.  I lost 2 fish just today.  My tank parameters are ph 8.0, GH 300, KH 300, nitrites 0, nitrates 20.  the temp is 78.  The other thing that could have kicked this disease off is the fact that I put in 3 new fish about 3 weeks ago.  These were the peacocks.  2 of them died today.  I didn't quarantine them.  I know that I probably should have (hind sight 20/20).  The only other symptoms that I can describe (besides stringy white/clear feces, hiding, not eating & lying on the bottom) is a rapid breathing & a bizarre behavior that a few of them exhibited right before they died - a fast mad, erratic, swirling, darting, freak out swim and then they just dropped dead (???).  I'm hoping that I can save my last few fish, but I highly doubt it at this point.  I'm about ready to give up on 3 years of fish keeping because of this catastrophe in my tank.  Can you help?  Do you have any ideas?  Thanks, ahead of time!  MM. <Dear McCall, Sorry to hear about your tank. You are correct about the main causes of bloat. For future reference, when you go on vacation I would not have anyone come feed my fish unless I would be gone longer than a week. I would lower the water temp. to 74 degrees and make sure my filters were clean and running well. For food I would recommend a Spirulina flake only. In the wild they eat algae off the rocks. A little brine shrimp flake every once an awhile doesn't hurt either. I have not had bloat for over twenty years. It is mainly caused by stress. I have heard that the fish get stressed and developed ulcers in their stomach. The bacteria in the stomach run through the fishes blood stream through the ulcers and are stopped in the liver where they multiply and grow. The fishes immune system reacts by diluting the liver with water and thus causing the bloat type disorder you can plainly see. The bloat may have been caused by you well meaning friend who overfed the fish while you were gone. I suspect the ammonia levels were elevated with lots of leftover food and the fish began to get sick. You probably have lots of rock work in your tank too. There were probably some dead bodies lodged under rocks and ornaments that added to the problem. If you have any fish left, I would stop feeding and continue to do your scheduled maintenance. The medicine has a tendency to kill good bacteria too. Make sure your nitrogen cycle is still good by checking on the ammonia levels. Any remaining fish should be fed a good quality fresh Spirulina food. Some aquarists make the mistake of buying food in bulk and it lasts them all year. If you do buy food in large quantities, I would freeze most of it and just keep a little in a can that can be fed in a week. This way it will not lose the vitamin content or go bad. As you well know Mbuna like to be crowded. If you add new fish and some of the older ones are still around you need to add the fish at night before you turn off the lights. Rearrange the rocks too. Mbuna set up territories and guard them very well against new fish. Bloat is a common problem with Tropheus from Lake Tanganyika. I would recommend a website called JDTropheus.com for a second opinion on how he handles his bloat problems with his fish. The same advice could be applied to Mbuna. As far as replacing your fish, Mbuna are easily bred and are very common all over the country in pet shops and at aquarium society meetings. Stay away from the newer more expensive fish for now until things settle down. You fish are very active and your filter should turn the water over at least 3 times an hour but 5 times and hour would be much better. I would recommend a book, Enjoying Cichlids by Ad Konings for a good reference on keeping all kinds of cichlids. Good luck Chuck>

Re: I've lost nearly all my African Cichlids! Help! I haven't really been medicating them continuously.  This is what I did: I did my first round of metro when I first suspected bloat. I treated w/250mg of metro per 10 gallons of water, every other day for 5 days (as the instructions on the box read). I cont. to lose, approx. 2 fish per day, during & after this treatment. I then read that I should/could treat daily instead of bi-daily. so I did my 2nd round, with probably a 3 day break in between rounds, & medicated w/ 250mg per 10 gallons for 3 days straight. all the while doing 20 - 25% water changes daily (as well as keeping the temp up 82 degrees, adding Epsom salt & surface agitation for air). it was either during or just after my 2nd treatment that I started to feed w/ metro soaked flakes & or pellets. I've done that for approx. 5 days now. I'm out of metro so I won't be feeding them that anymore anyhow... do you still think that it was poisoning? < It could be that or a combination of things. We just may never know because we were not there when it was going on. One other thing I would do is reduce the temperature to 77 degrees. Last year when I was diving in Malawi I measured the water temperature and found it to be no more than 77 to 78 degrees. Lake Victorian cichlids seam to bloat up like balloons when the water temp gets above 80 degrees. It is a real problem in the summer without air conditioning.>  well, I'll follow your advise & try to get back on track.  first, I'll have to win a lottery to replace all of those fish!  ): < Your tank is already set up. After awhile the fish will either die or get better. If you want to stick with Mbuna then it would be best to add the fish all at the same time. It is better to save up your money and get them all at once rather than spread your purchases out over a few weeks or even months. Small fish (1")should cost around $5.00 each. Twenty fish would do well in a 40 to 55 gallon tank depending on your filtration. > thanks for sticking it out w/ me!  P.S. Here is my whole sob story along w/ the advice & support that I received from the good members at the cichlid forum: http://www.cichlid-forum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=33777 not to put two pros against each other, because I know everyone has their own opinion when it comes to dealing w/ fish, but what do you think? < All so called experts rely on their past experiences and knowledge to help answer questions. In many cases there may be many different solutions because not two aquariums are exactly alike. Look at all the books out there! I would recommend you get a journal and record everything you do to your tank. Daily water temp., water changes , type of food, what kind of fish were added and when. etc... After a while you will see a pattern developed. When something goes wrong you will probably see some sort of variation from your normal routine. This variation may or may not be the cause of the problem but it is a good place to start looking. You could even set up a spread sheet on your computer. Next time you have a question you could attach the file for some one to review and see if they can find any problems. -Chuck> African cichlids Dear Crew I have 6 fish in a 30 gallon tank all Africans all are fine except one. I have one African bumblebee cichlid who in the last few weeks spends his time head straight up hiding in a fake plant eyes cloudy and he is yellow but as he is hiding all day he turns a really dark and black he won't eat much and does not move his tail fins look a little ragged but the concern are his cloudy eyes and also his straight up stance sometimes he is head down but not moving much? I have treated the tank with antibiotics but everyone else is fine and swimming around healthy water test indicate no problems any help is greatly appreciated......<Dear Tyrone, You did not mention the other fish but I suspect the others are intimidating your little bumble bee cichlid. I would place him in a little breeder net that you can buy for a few dollars at the local pet shop. Make sure that the top is covered so he does not jump out. Place a small pvc or plastic tube in the net so he has somewhere to hide. Make sure the pH of your tank is above 7 and add a tablespoon of rock salt or sea salt_ for every 5 gallons of water to the tank. They sell a rift lake salt as well that will work. Follow the directions on the container. The salt will help generate a slime on the fish and will get rid of the cloudy eyes. The other fish are picking on this one and the tail will grow back quickly. When the bumblebee cichlid has his tail back and the eyes are no longer cloudy then he can be returned to the main tank only after you do a few things. Just before you turn off the lights at night, rearrange the rocks and do a 25% water change. Put the bumblebee back in the tank and turn off the lights for the night. The next morning they will be swimming around trying to establish new territories. Good luck, Chuck>

African Wipe-out Follow-up (and Thanks!) Recently I  have asked you some questions and I've appreciated your fast reply.  My tank of African cichlids was doing well, but today I noticed my Iodochromis sprengerae (Rusty) had a single large white spot on its side. Its behavior is normal, but I am worried for its health.   <Mbuna like yours are fairly aggressive and occasionally get into fights. Wounds on the flanks may be caused by fighting or by the fish accidentally rubbing against some sharp object. You fish have teeth for scraping algae off of rocks and they can do some damage when used on other fish. I would recommend adding some African salts to the tank as per the manufacturers recommendations. This will inhibit secondary fungus and bacterial infections while increasing the fishes slime on the skin. There are also water conditioners that will increase the slime on a fish too. If the fish gets worse then I would put it in a separate tank and medicate for wounds. No need to treat the entire tank when just one fish needs the medication. Besides antibiotics can affect your biological filters and really cause havoc in your tank. Good luck-Chuck> Thank you, Rachel

Yellow "Lab" Question - Itchy Dogs?  No, Silly.. Labidochromis cichlid! Dear Magnus, my lab seems to be scratching itself against the gravel.  what is this queer behavior? <When a fish does this it's referred to as "Flashing".  The fish has something that is either irritating his gills (parasites) or it has agitating his skin (bacteria, fungus, parasites).  The fish is trying to "rub" the parasite off.  Which it won't be able to.  Most likely the fish will hurt itself in doing so, or scratch itself and then allow the infection to get into the skin.  He is in need of medication (suggest Maracide, since it is a broader base medicine) to rid him of the problems.  I suggest that you also pick up a book on the general health care of fish.  This will be handy for you so you can turn to the book and learn about issues rather than waiting for email replies.  I find that having a nice library of a few good books on hand is extremely valuable.  Good luck. -Magnus>

Frontosa's Mouth Hi, Thank you in advance to reading my question. <That is what we are here for.> I have a group of frontosa cichlids that seem to keep their mouths closed, like they are stretching their upper lip downward. They are only about 3 inches and too young to be holding. It's only a few of them, the rest are fine. <Something like that typically isn't an environmental problem. This might be a case of physical deformities, and these birth defects are growing more pronounced as they age.  Frontosas breed quite easily after the 3 year mark, and many people don't take into account that in order to have good and healthy fish, breeding needs to have multiple healthy blood lines.  Chances could be that the three fish that you have might be severely inbred by the breeder. Mouth and eye deformities are common in inbred cichlids. Many responsible breeders look for issues like this and cull those fry so to keep lines pure.. If the case is an issue of birth defects, then there isn't much you can do.> When I feed them they don't/can't seem to open their mouths to feed, but they get close to the food and somehow scoop it. It is really puzzling and I can't figure out what is causing this. Any help you can lend would be greatly appreciated. <Probably the best thing to do is keep an eye on them.  Make sure that they are given clean water, and monitor to see if they are eating properly.  With a hindrance to be able to eat they might not be getting all the food that they should.> Thank You Adrian <Wish I could be more definitive with an answer to help you and your fish.  But, I think it's best to keep an eye on them and see what happens. -Magnus>

Sick Cichlid? Hello, I am writing with hopes of a solution. <And I hope this reaches you well, please forgive the delay.> I have a Copadichromis trewavasae which is wild caught. It has developed two wart like growths. One is just below its mouth and one is right by its eye. They are growing fairly quickly. I am a long time hobbyist and work in the field but I do not know what this is or how to treat it. <Although this could describe very many diseases, the first things that pop into mind are Lymphocystis, Columnaris, perhaps a fluke or helminth under the skin, or possibly even an indicator of mycobacteriosis.  It might be a help to know how long the fish has been in captivity, and how long in your care.> I tried Rid Ich thinking a parasite but it was ineffective. <Were there any improvements/changes at all during that treatment?  Did it get worse during that time?> I say wart like because of the shape, the way it protrudes and it is the same color as the fish tissue. <If the fish is pale/scared, do the lumps still remain the same color as the fish, or do they seem a bit dark or grayish?  Have they developed any "cottony" looking tufts?  The location of them (eye, mouth) seems consistent with the very beginnings of Columnaris, which can look like a slightly off-color lump in its early stages, but again, there are so many things this might be....  At this point, if there's no hint of the cottony tufts of Columnaris, I'm pretty sure you can rule that out.  Lymphocystis would develop into whitish cauliflower-looking lumps, so if that hasn't happened yet, I think you could rule that out, too.  If the lumps have developed into raised lesions, I think it would be an indicator of mycobacteriosis.  There is always the possibility that these are small tumors, as well, in which case there really is nothing you can do.  If the fish is only recently in captivity, I think there is a very strong possibility of this being a fluke or helminth encysted under the skin; if the fish is not badly infested, you might just wait it out, or try treating with food containing Levamisole or Piperazine - really, I think it is likeliest that this is what you're dealing with.  Again, some history on the fish might help a bit.> Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks for your time. <Sure thing - and again, sorry for the delay.  I hope all goes well for you and your fish,  -Sabrina> John  

Mystery African cichlid deaths - 11/24/03 <Soooooo sorry for the delay.> I really don't know if you can help me, I have asked 3 different people their opinions and treated my water with any number of different medications. <curious as to what the others said???> I have a 850L tank, about 7 foot long. In it we had 2 venustus at about 15cm, a blue dolphin about the same length numerous others including electric yellows, blues, peacocks (I think that's what they're called), <yep>  jewels and clown loaches and Bristlenose. In the past, we've had a man come to clean the tank every 4 weeks. Recently, we've taken it upon ourselves to clean the water (about 2/3) every weekend and cleaning out the filters as well. <How are you cleaning out your filters??> We had noticed that the venustus had been scratching but there was no obvious signs of disease, and they were eating well. <Interesting> We purchased 2 small yabbies (they were blue), and a few days later one large electric yellow died with no obvious marks. It was at this time that the fish went off their food. Then venustus started to gasp. In the few hours before they died, they started to jerk and had cloudy eyes. When this occurred I used a product called Melaflex or Melafix in an attempt to help the others who had started to gasp <I am not sure I like this product. I have tried in the past when I had some various issues with water quality but my fish continued to have issues whether I used it or not. Save the money> I changed 2/3 of the water but did not clean the filter (the water smelt terrible!). <Carbon and a poly filter will help> A few days later our tank cleaning man came and added an antibiotic called triple-sulfa. <OK> By this time we had lost 15 fish, including 2 clown loaches. <Very sorry> We found millions of small snails floating on the surface, but it appears as though the bigger ones are still alive. <Probably a result of the Triple Sulfa> The blue dolphin was the only fish that had what appeared to be white spot. <parasitic or missing scale?> We have removed the yabbies, but fish have continued to die and some are still gasping even though it is not an aeration problem, we have a large air stone in the water <Doesnt necessarily mean there is plenty of oxygen?> We have now added cycle in an attempt to restore the water to a natural state. <More water changes will help> We are at a loss to know what has gone wrong, if it was the yabbies we would have thought that the pet stores' fish would also be dead, but I have seen them alive and well <Likely not the yabbies?? But always a good lesson for quarantine> Please tell us if there is anything else we can do besides removing all our existing fish and starting again from fresh. <May be a gill issue or possible internal parasite, but from what you describe with the twitching, scraping, and the gasping as well as the loss of appetite, I might be inclined to look into maybe some sort of gill malady. Check through this site and see what the great many posters there might have for you: http://cichlidforums.com/> We have salt in the water and always add more when we change water I hope you can help, we are getting rather desperate. <I would try without salt as well. I know that the rift lakes seem to have some traces of salts and minerals but try just aerating the water and heating it before doing a water change in fact, do more frequent water changes and use carbon. Try an appetite stimulant like Selcon or Vita-Chem to see if that doesnt induce some eating. Try some frozen foods as well, I like to use enriched brine shrimp and other frozen cichlid foods. I think it is important to get them eating before another treatment. You could try Metronidazole for internal parasites, but not so sure this is the issue. Look into the gills as a possible area of infection. What about necropsy? Maybe a vet could identify the cause of death and you could work from there. Just some suggestions but really not identifiable through email unfortunately. ~Paul>

Cichlid Troubles Hello, I am new to the freshwater aquarium world and I'm hoping you would point me in the right direction on what I should do with my sick (or maybe not) cichlids...I currently have 5 African cichlids no more than 2 inches, electric yellow, cobalt blue, red zebra, Kenyi and auratus cichlids (they were 5 for $10, so I got one of each.)  I also HAD 5 blood parrots about 3-4 inches, all have died recently due to ich (they had white spots all over their body.)   <I'm sorry to hear that.> They were all in my 90 gallon tank which was set up about 3 months ago.  I think it could be the water change that caused them to get sick because white spots appeared on the parrots immediately after the water change.   <Quite possible, if you didn't match pH and temperature on the water change.  I trust you did use a dechlorinator, though?> I regret to say that we didn't check for nitrate, ammonia, etc but only checked the pH.  I don't' think the water temperature was correct either, we had only one heater that maintained about 75 degrees.  My tank is being cleaned right now and I have moved the African cichlids to a smaller 5 gallon tank (might be a bit small) <Oh goodness, yes that is a bit small!!> until the bigger tank is cleaned.  I also went and bought supplies for the aquarium, such as medications, nitrate and ammonia testers, aquarium salt and an extra heater. <Make sure you have test kits for pH and nitrite in addition to ammonia and nitrate.> I was told by LFS to quarantine the fish and separate the ones that had white spots from the ones that don't, they had also told me to treat all of the fish with ich medicine because more than a couple of fish had white spots, possibility that they're all infected but not showing signs yet.   <With ich, I would quarantine the fish together in the same tank and treat them all for it - it is quite possible that even fish that don't look infected really are, and have the parasites in their gills> They show the early signs like scratching on objects or rocks, hanging motionless at the top of the tank.   <Very sure symptoms, yes> The electric yellow is the most active fish but now we don't' see him as often as before and he's always next to the water flow or the air pump.  My Kenyi is also scratching and sometimes looks as if he's having a seizure and my red zebra all of a sudden developed redness along side his gills.  The Cobalt Blue is the most aggressive fish and he seems fine.  Auratus is starting to act like the electric yellow.  Should I be worried that they're acting this way?  I know these are signs but they don't have any white spots.   <They don't need to have visible spots on them to be infected - again, they may have parasites in their gills.> I do also have 2 mollies (They were my first fish) and one of them only has 1 white spot (definitely looks like ich.)  I read that it can take only several white spots to do a small fish in.   <Indeed - if you see spots on the fish, you can be relatively certain that they have ich in their gills as well, compromising their ability to take in oxygen.> Sometimes they splash at the top of the water, as if gasping for air and resume normal activities.  This happens occasionally.  (They've been hanging around at the top of the aquarium lately as well.) <Definitely signs of ich - the splashing can be to try to dislodge parasites, or can also be in response to poor water quality - be sure to check your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH levels> Should I separate them from the cichlids?   <No, I would treat all the fish together.> I have already begun to treat them with Rid-Ich for the last 2 days.  I have been doing a 20% water change from the small quarantine tank everyday and checked for pH, nitrate, ammonia, added some aquarium salt and stress coat, and following with the ich medication.   <Sounds perfect> Can I feed them during medication and how often?   <Feed as normal, or a little less.> Should I not treat them now with the Rid-Ich and wait until white spots appear (if they do) and then treat them?   <Treat all the fish; it sounds to me like all are exhibiting signs of ich> If so, how long should I continue treatment for? <I would continue treatment for two weeks from the time you started; if you're leaving the main tank fallow (fishless), turn the temperature in there up to 85 degrees or so while you're treating the fish; this will help rush the ich's life cycle and hopefully eradicate them from the tank when they go in search of hosts and find none.> And when doing water changes, is the water that I'm going to add to the tank supposed to be the same temperature as the water in the tank? <Yes, absolutely; this will help prevent future problems.  Major temperature swings can bring on outbreaks like this.> Please help.  I've lost the parrots and it was sad enough and I don't wanna lose my baby cichlids....I want them to grow BIG!! =o) All the advice that you can give me is greatly appreciated.  Sandy <For some further reading, please check this out:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm .  Hope everything goes well for you, and that your fish recover shortly!  -Sabrina>

Cichlid Troubles II, and some praise Hi Sabrina, Thank you for the advice...I must say, your website does wonders for clueless aquarists like me!  I don't know what I would've done, probably nothing or something that shouldn't be done, if I hadn't discovered your website.   <Thank you for the kind words!  It is indeed something that I am honored to be a part of.> Taking your advice (although I was hesitant to move all the fish to separate tanks because I really didn't know what I was doing) I kept them all together and have been treating the mollies and the cichlids with Rid-Ich. The male molly who previously had one white spot HAS NO MORE SPOTS!!!   <Yay!> The only thing is that he seems to be going through some fin and tail rot, (not sure if ICH can lead to that but I think so or the cichlids may be nipping at him)  His tail is raggedy and so are his fins.   <Might possibly be a result of the medication, the illness, or yeah, the cichlids.  The mollies probably won't fare very well with the cichlids in the long run.> I'm a little over a week into treating the fish with Rid-Ich and 20% water changes everyday (using Amquel to remove ammonia, chlorine and all that stuff) I am actually seeing some improvements.   <Good to hear!  Be sure to keep up with the ich treatment until all the ich is off the fish, and for the full life cycle of it thereafter.> As for my molly, I'll be keeping him separated and treat with Maracyn for the fin and tail rot after treating with Rid-ich.   <Excellent.> The good news, THEY ALL SEEM TO BE GETTING BETTER!!!  Well I just wanted to thank you for the advice and your website...there is LOTS of useful information and needless to say, I've learned a lot from reading all the articles and will definitely keep your site as a reference for any future occurrences. <Again, thank you so much for the kind words, and I'm so glad to hear of the fishes' improvement!  Keep up the good work.  -Sabrina> Sandy

Jewel Cichlids  >Have a question. I have a 45 gallon tank with 3 pairs of convicts and one pair of jewel cichlids. It seems that there was a huge festival of mating in the tank, with everyone spawning at the same time..  >>Oh my, a cichlid orgy as it were? Hee..!  >I just cleaned the tank yesterday! Any way, my jewels just spawned today, and this morning, everything was fine and dandy between the two jewels, as it has been always when they have spawned. Now, the male jewel has taken over the eggs, and the female seems a little beat up and wont come out from her hiding spot. The male will not let her back to her brood. When she does come out and some color returns, and she nears her spawning site, the male chases her away again, she turns grayish, and goes back to hiding. Please give me some advice as to what I should do, because out of all these fish, the pair of jewels are my favorite, and the female is a part of that prized possession.  >>Of course, as the male wouldn't be quite so brilliant if she weren't there to show off to. I'm thinking that, even though the constructs and confines of the tank with present mates (Convicts) were acceptable previously, for whatever reason this is no longer the case. If these were my fish, I would not hesitate to dedicate a tank to them, providing MANY places for the female to hide. I will also point you towards some sites I've recently discovered: http://www.african.uklinux.net/phpBB/index.php (COOL! I just noticed that it's a Linux construct!) Also, be sure they're both getting top nutrition.  >Thanks a lot! Crystal  >>P.S. Please accept my apologies for the late reply, the person in whose inbox your message was has had some computer troubles and it got past the rest of us. Marina 

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